• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • No Hurricanes or Earthquakes Yet, But FEMA Already Headed for Record Year

    In President Barack Obama’s first two years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) averaged 108 disaster declarations per year. In less than six months, FEMA already has issued 100 declarations in 2011.

    The record year remains 1996, when President Bill Clinton issued 157 declarations. If FEMA maintains this pace for the rest of the year, it will exceed 200 declarations and push President Obama’s yearly average to 139 per year. This figure would continue the trend started by President George H. W. Bush of presidential Administrations exceeding the previous Administration’s FEMA declaration total.

    Bush averaged 43.5 declarations per year, which was 15.4 declarations more than President Ronald Reagan (who finished 15.9 declarations below President Jimmy Carter). President Clinton doubled that average by issuing 89.3 declarations per year. Not to be outdone, President George W. Bush finished his eight years with an average of 129.5 declarations per year, or a new declaration every three days.

    Even more astonishing is that President Obama has issued 316 FEMA declarations without one hurricane or 7.0-plus earthquake striking the United States. That means that the vast majority of declarations issued over the last three years have been for natural disasters historically handled entirely by states and localities. Even more surprising is that President Obama already set the single-year record for major disaster declarations when he issued 81 in 2010—a year devoid of any nationally catastrophic disasters. These benchmarks are nothing more than federalization run amok.

    And it must stop. Every routine natural disaster that FEMA involves itself in diverts finite and vital resources (people, money, time, and supplies) that should be used preparing for a truly catastrophic event that will actually overwhelm state and local governments.

    Countless journalists have asked me how I thought FEMA did during the tornado strikes of the last month or so. My response has been fairly simple and straightforward: FEMA has done well, which it always does when the event is a flood slowly building on a river or a tornado that does localized geographic damage. The real test is how FEMA does when a powerful hurricane hits Miami, North Carolina, or New Orleans.

    History has shown a fairly poor track record when Andrew in 1992, Floyd in 1999, and Katrina in 2005 struck the United States. Let’s hope all that time spent on those 316 routine natural disasters doesn’t leave us with a FEMA unprepared for the real deal.

    By the way, hurricane season started on June 1, and the weather experts are predicting an above-average year for hurricanes—just as they did the last two years. FEMA recommends you get prepared. Let’s hope for FEMA’s sake that either the weather experts are wrong again or FEMA is as prepared as it says it is.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to No Hurricanes or Earthquakes Yet, But FEMA Already Headed for Record Year

    1. Bobbie says:

      He's doing everything he can to promote our dollars worth. Again violating his oath, taking over the duties of the states.

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Just another form of redistribution – except if you are Texas. When Obama is out, we need to investigate not only the administration, but also the willingness of the federal workforce to abide by this illegal activity. Anyone knowing the root decisions about what is going on are accomplices to these crimes and they should be brought up to congressional hearings. There should be standards. If there are, it is clear they are not being adhered to. I would rather quit than conduct this illegal activity.

      This is why the CEO's and all the office worker accomplices in Enron and WorldCom were put in jail. We need to start putting federal workers who abide by these activities in jail as well. We need SOMEONE in DC who will act as a guard against these corrupt politicians!

    3. Glen says:

      From the FEMA website:

      "As set forth in the Stafford Act, a governor seeks a presidential declaration by submitting a written request to the President through the FEMA regional office. In this request the Governor certifies that the combined local, county and state resources are insufficient and that the situation is beyond their recovery capabilities."

      The Governors of the states in question should also be held accountable, some of whom are Republicans.

    4. Lisa Wagner says:

      Who let this person write opinions?

    5. Doug Cox Benton Ky says:

      So how come none of our (crooks) leaders never get indicted for ignoring or trying to tear down our constitution? Are both parties together to be against us? Nothing seems to change no matter which party is in the majority.Everyone has to swear an oath or affirm to uphold the Contitution,if O'bama is upholding it I'd sure hate to see him actively go against it!

    6. West Texan says:

      FEMA duplicates a state responsibility. The only federal disaster relief needed should be the Department of Defense (DOD). And only as needed and useful to state coordinators. In terms of infrastructure losses and meeting residents' immediate needs, states would do well to form compacts among themselves and pool their assurance dollars with a private trust. Except for the DOD, keep the federal government out.

    7. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Do we not recognize why Obama wins the prize with more "FEMA declarations" than an other recent president? It's known as "vote buying". I'm not suggesting that FEMA is not needed in certain disasters. But this piece of work that now sit in the Oval office, has and will continue to use every trick in the book, including Americans suffering, to gain political advanage for the next election.

      Because I've lived in the New Orleans area most of my life, I understand the goods and bads of FEMA after Katrina, I do believe FEMA has a place in

      federal government. But, at the same time, if it was not the incompetence of another federal government agency (Corps of Engineers) and the total incompetence of the local mayor and governer, FEMA would not have had the

      same effect it did or did not have.

    8. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Lisa Wagner,

      To answer your question, look at the bottom of the document that added the first 10 amendments to the constitution. Those demented men proposed the out-of-the-world idea that everyone had a right to speak their minds – crazy as it might seem to the current government. Then following that development the states were nuts enough to follow suit and approve those amendments. Now we are stuck with people who can speak their minds – dammit!

      Those documents also spelled out with great precision about the order of things in the government, specifically with the balance of power within the three branches of government. Congress has been derelict in its duties to write legislation that is first, affordable and second they did not provide adequate funding for that legislation. This is where the executive branch pops in. That includes the federal workforce. The duty is a check on congress. If proposed programs are UNFUNDED, it is the duty of the federal workforce to stop the programs until proper funding is available or the program is rescinded. It is how we keep all the branches on the level. Well the federal workforce has also been derelict in that duty – they just blindly go along with bad legislation.

      All funding must be applied to the “GENERAL WELFARE” of the country – not just blue states.


      If Obama favors certain places over others then that is criminal and needs to be pointed out. Each agency/department has IG offices or the like. Federal workers are empowered with tools to expose corruption. There are no excuses that this kind of corruption can continue – unless of course, no one does anything. I am sorry that this resonates the discussion points that were made about corporate corruption. But the shoe fits. The only difference is that what corporate corruption cost the country over years of criminal activity – the feds do in half a month.

      The answer is to stop unfunded programs today!

      West Texan, I support your comment, only that I will add that the DoD stays out of it. You only need the state controlled National Guard. Keep disaster response local and under local control.

    9. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Genn Wrote: "The Governors of the states in question should also be held accountable, some of whom are Republicans."

      I absolutely agree! I dont care about republican or democrat as I essentially see them as the same.

    10. Bobbie says:


    11. MT from VA says:

      "History has shown a fairly poor track record when Andrew in 1992, Floyd in 1999, and Katrina in 2005 struck the United States."

      Regarding Katrina, President Bush asked Democratic Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineau Blanco at least 3 times whether she wanted any Federal assistance. After each time Governor Blanco said "No." Finally, LTGEN Russel L. Honore ended up holding Governor Blanco's hand as best he can through that disaster. ps, no small surprise we now have Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

      Governors have the legal right to say no to Federal government disaster assistance (as of that time). So this specific account and general observation needs to be part of the above history.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.